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Friday, November 28, 2008

Obama File 54 Communist Party Leader On Obama "We Are Speaking To A Friend"

Obama File 53 here

"The left can and should advance its own views and disagree with the Obama administration without being disagreeable. Its tone should be respectful. We are speaking to a friend."

Sam Webbb-National Chair Communist Party USA

Now that Barack Obama is safely elected, his Communist Party backers feel confident to come out of the shadows.

Communist Party leader Sam Webb has just posted a long speech on the CPUSA website-A Springtime of Possibility.

Here are some extracts, with commentary from me.

Sam Webb If the election of Barack Obama was a monumental victory, election night itself was a magical moment. In Chicago and across the nation, tears of joy and exhilaration mingled with memories of how far we have come. As the President-elect greeted the hundreds of thousands of well wishers in Grant Park, it was hard not to think of the many struggles for freedom mapping our nation’s history...

To say that a sea change occurred on Nov. 4 is no exaggeration. On one side, the arguably worst president in our history leaves Washington disgraced. His party’s policies, ideology and cultural symbols are discredited. The GOP is in disarray and the blame game has begun. The red/blue state paradigm and the southern strategy, a strategy conceived exactly forty years ago to divide the nation along racial lines, are in shambles. And the entire capitalist class, not only its most reactionary section, is weakened.

On the other side of the changing sea, a sense of joy, catharsis and renewal is in the air. Expectations are high. A new era of progressive change is waiting to be set in motion. If the past eight years of the Bush administration seemed like a winter of discontent, Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency feels like a springtime of possibility...

New Zeal Webb has every right to gloat. The left has routed the "right" as represented by George Bush's Republican Party. Webb sees this as no temporary blip, but as the beginnings of a great shift to the left.

Sam Webb No one, of course, expects that the securing of a better future will be easy. There is, after all, eight years of extreme right-wing misrule to clean up. The economic crisis is widening and deepening. Right-wing extremism, while badly weakened, still retains enough influence in Congress and elsewhere to block progressive measures. And class realities are still embedded in our society.

Nevertheless, in electing Barack Obama and larger Democratic Party majorities in Congress, the American people have taken the first and absolutely necessary step in the direction of building a more just society. We are not on the threshold of socialism for sure, but it is easy to see the further congealing of a growing majority that will realign politics, not incrementally and momentarily, but decisively and enduringly in the direction of economic justice, equality and peace.

New Zeal No, not socialism yet, but the beginnings of a permanent shift in that direction.

Sam Webb While we should look at the outcome of the elections objectively, I would argue that the biggest danger is to underestimate the political significance of what has happened. I am suspicious of advice that suggests that we temper our understandable joy and enthusiasm as if nothing of great importance has happened.

The country is in a period of transition. A new potentially transformative president is entering the White House, along with increased Democratic majorities in Congress. Class consciousness is deeper and reaches into every section of the working class. A spirit of broad unity is palpable. The ideological environment is infused with progressive and egalitarian ideas. Labor and its allies are retrofitting their priorities, message and initiatives to the new political landscape. And millions are ready to energetically back the legislative agenda of the Obama administration...

This favorable correlation of class and social forces couldn’t happen at a better time. The challenges facing the new administration are immense. Some are short term; others longer term; some are national in scope; others global. And all are begging for solution.

New Zeal Perfect-a leftist president and Congress, plus an international financial crisis and impending recession/depression. People will accept radical solutions during time of crises-even socialist solutions.

Sam Webb Given the current situation, it is apparent that the Obama administration enters the White House with huge challenges. At the same time, no president in recent memory brings to the job so much popular good will, a Congress dominated by Democrats, an election mandate for progressive change, and an energized movement that supports him.

As I said earlier, we are in a transitional period in which the broad contours and class relationships of U.S. politics have changed to the point that we have to adjust our strategic policy. Our policy of singling out the extreme right and its reactionary corporate backers and building the broadest unity against them, discussed in these meetings and contained in our Party program, captured the class realities of the past 30 years. In this year’s election we applied that policy consistently and creatively. Admittedly, we adjusted this policy at the tactical level in January of this year after concluding that Obama had the potential to bring together and give voice to an all-people’s coalition and win the election by a landslide.

New Zeal Communist policy was to demonise and divide the "extreme right" (normal conservative Americans). It worked. Communists decided early on that Obama was a potential winner-Hillary Clinton was never favored.

Looking back, it isn’t immodest to say that both our overall policy and our tactical adjustment were on the money. We shouldn’t claim bragging rights, but we can say that our strategic and tactical approach captured better than any other organization or movement on the left the political algebra of the election process, including the possibility of a landslide.

This isn’t to say that other left movements and organizations were of no consequence, because they were, but none of them had as much political coherence in their strategic and tactical policies as we did. Nor did they do the day-to-day grassroots work with the same consistency that we did.

New Zeal Some well justified boasting from the Communist Party leader.

Sam Webb That said, the new political landscape in the election’s wake compels us to make strategic as well as tactical changes. Our current strategic policy, I’m sure you will agree, no longer corresponds with the present situation...

Now and for the foreseeable future, the country is in a political transition that interweaves elements of the past and the future. This argues against attempts to fit the political dynamics of this moment into a rigid and schematic strategic framework. Our strategic policy is a conceptual device (or guide to action) whose purpose is to give us a first approximation of what is happening on the ground among the main class and social forces, which of them has the upper hand, and what it will take to move the political process in a progressive direction. It doesn’t claim to capture reality in all of its complexity and contradictoriness. And this is especially so in a transitional period such as this one. Therefore, the strategic notion of stages of struggle has to be employed judiciously and flexibly, or, as some like to say, dialectically.

New Zeal Webb warns that now is not the time to be doctrinaire. Now is the time dialectics, a flexible approach to a fast moving situation.

Sam Webb So briefly, how do the various forces line up? Let’s begin with Obama. During the election we correctly resisted fitting Obama into a tightly sealed political category. We should continue that practice. I don’t think categorizing him as a bourgeois or centrist politician at this moment is very helpful, even if he begins by governing from the center.

Obama is an unusual political figure. He has deep democratic sensibilities, a sense of history and modesty, and an almost intuitive feel for the national mood. His political and intellectual depth matches his eloquence. In the wake of the election, he is the leader of a far-flung multiclass “change” coalition that constitutes a new political universe to which everyone has to relate. He embraces a reform agenda in a reform era whose political character will be decided in the years ahead. Many, including ourselves, have used the words “transformational” or “transforming” to describe his candidacy — that is, a candidacy capable of assembling a broad people’s majority to reconfigure the terms and terrain of politics in this country in a fundamental way. The same can be said about the potential of his presidency.

Obama isn’t finished with Obama. Like other great leaders, he is a work in progress who has demonstrated the capacity to grow as things change and new problems arise. He will undoubtedly feel competing pressures, but he will also leave his own political imprint on presidential decisions, much like Lincoln and Roosevelt did. It’s good that Obama has these qualities because he is inheriting mammoth problems. In consultation with the Democrats in Congress and the main organizations of the people’s coalition, he will set the agenda and determine the timing of legislative initiatives next year

New Zeal Keep your eye on the big picture comrades. Don't sweat if Obama has to do some things you don't like. Its the broad changes we communists are after.

Sam Webb However, let’s not go bananas when he appoints somebody whose politics we don’t like. We should not expect that this administration will be free of representatives of Wall Street or old line Democrats or even some Republicans. Their presence doesn’t necessarily define the political inclinations of the Obama administration, nor does it tell us exactly what its political priorities will be. Nothing would be worse at this moment than to force politics into fixed and frozen categories on the one hand and to ignore the new political dynamics and movements that emerged from the elections on the other. Let’s give Obama some space; millions of others will, including, I suspect, the main leaders of the labor and people’s movement. Marxism is a guide to action, not a dogma.

New Zeal Don't be dogmatic comrades. Give the man a break. He'll have to do things we don't like to appease the mainstream. He's on the right track, give him a chance.

Sam Webb Then there are the Obama grassroots networks and committees. These web-generated forms of organization and action were formidable in the elections and will in all likelihood continue to be a forceful presence in the coming years. They contain an array of diverse people, including lots of young people, all of whom are very loyal to Obama and will throw their weight behind his program. In some places we are part of “Yes We Can” networks and should remain so; where we aren’t, we (along with others) should make connections with them.

New Zeal The Communist Party was active in Obama's campaign all over the US. Keep the networks going and expand communist presence into areas where currently weak.

Sam Webb The Democratic Party, for sure, isn’t an anti-capitalist people’s party. Yet it contains a variety of currents. In the recent elections the center and progressive currents gained in size and influence. While its character isn’t left in its outlook in the wake of Obama’s landslide victory, liberal and progressive congress people have the wind at their back. Right-wing Democrats, meanwhile, are running into headwinds. This is not 1992 all over again.

New Zeal The far left is now dominant in the Democratic Party. We won't let Obama slip out of our control like Clinton did.

Sam Webb Then there are the broad people’s forces, and Communists are a current among these forces. These forces continue to evolve in positive ways. Unity is on a higher level. Their politics move along anti-corporate, egalitarian and anti-militarist lines. They express themselves through a range of organizational forms. In this election these forces walked with seven league boots, kicked butt and took no prisoners. Nothing seemed to knock them off stride.

These loosely grouped forces will energetically participate in struggles in the period ahead. Labor will continue to play a special organizing and political role.

New Zeal The communist controlled peace movement, mass organisations, pressure groups and unions are on a roll. Expect them to put huge pressure on the Obama administration in the years ahead.

Sam Webb At the same time, labor and its allies, while vigorously advancing their own agenda, must adjust to the new scope of the post-election change coalition led by Obama that had emerged. Never before has a coalition with such breadth walked on the political stage of our country. It is far larger than the coalition that entered the election process a year ago; it is larger still than the coalition that came out of the Democratic Party convention in August.

Moreover, its growth potential is enormous. Significant numbers of white workers and small businesspeople, for example, who didn’t cast their vote for Obama, can be won to progressive and anti-racist positions of struggle going forward

New Zeal The communist/socialist trade unions and their affiliates will be used to broaden the "peoples movement" behind Obama. They will aim to bring the conservative white working class back to the Democrats.

Sam Webb As you can see, this change coalition contains various political forces with disparate class loyalties. There are no pure struggles at any stage of struggle. Indeed, in such a broad, multiclass coalition, relations will be contested as well as cooperative...

As for us, we can provide leadership only to the degree that we are in the trenches of the wider labor-led people’s movement, building this people’s upsurge in all directions. Only if we are making practical, on-the-ground contributions to the immediate struggles, and especially in the economic arena, can we help give political coherence to this broad coalition.

New Zeal Communists must get their hands dirty, increase dominance of the union movement and the mass organisations. This is not the time to sit on the sidelines.

Sam Webb Yes, we should bring issues and more advanced positions into the process that go beyond the initiatives of the Obama administration and the broad multiclass, many-layered coalition that supports it. But we should do this within the framework of the main task of supporting Obama’s program of action and building breadth, depth and participation of the core forces. We have to master the art of combining partial demands with more advanced ones. The former (partial demands) are the immediate grounds for building broad unity in action...

New Zeal Communists must keep pushing to tleft whenever possible, but should never do this at the expense of movement unity. Keeping the movement behind Obama united is the number one priority.

Sam Webb Nevertheless, we shouldn’t assume that the Obama administration will inevitably track right. It isn’t dialectical because it fails to take into account the election mandate, the new leverage of labor and its allies and, perhaps most important, the broader developments in the economy. We also shouldn’t have any truck with people on the left who argue that the main protagonists in the coming period are the Obama administration and Democrats on one side and the people on the other.

Finally, we should take a dim view of some on the left who will wait for the new administration to stumble and then immediately call for a break and attempt to turn broader forces into a hostile opposition. In fact, probably the biggest challenge for the core forces of this multiclass coalition is to resist attempts by reaction and some left forces to pit the Obama administration and Congress against the main sections of the people’s movement on one or another issue. Where there are (and will be) differences over appointments, legislation or other actions between the administration and the broad democratic forces, these differences have to handled in such a way as not to break the overall unity.

New Zeal Unity is all! Unity is all! Unity is all!

Sam Webb The left can and should advance its own views and disagree with the Obama administration without being disagreeable. Its tone should be respectful. We are speaking to a friend. When the administration and Congress take positive initiatives, they should be wholeheartedly welcomed. Nor should anyone think that everything will be done in 100 days. After all, main elements of the New Deal were codified into law in 1935, 1936 and 1937.

Although we are not in the socialist stage of the revolutionary process, we are, nevertheless on the road, and the only road, that will lead to socialism – to a society that is egalitarian in the rough sense, eliminates exploitation of working people, brings an end to all forms of oppression, and is notable for the many-layered participation of working people and their allies in the management of the economy and state.

The room for socialist ideas is in the public square has grown enormously. Such ideas can be easily discussed with many people and people’s leaders. Furthermore, the force of economic events will compel millions more to consider socialist ideas that in the past were dismissed out of hand. But our vision of socialism will resonate to the degree that it addresses contemporary sensibilities and challenges...

New Zeal Communists must keep their eyes on the big picture. We are on the road to socialism and we must not deviate.

Sam Webb Our role, as I have tried to say, is to be part of the struggles going forward – beginning with attending the inauguration and encouraging others to do the same. It’s going to be a grand event and a public expression of support for Obama and a mass expression for change.

Let’s reengage with others (labor, the nationally and racially oppressed, women, and youth) in this struggle. As to precisely what we do, we have to do some brainstorming as well as consult with people and organizations that we worked with in the election campaign.

A couple of ideas come to mind. We should consider initiating meetings to discuss the economic crisis and how to respond to it at the local, state and national level. Such meetings could be very broad in their participation and sponsorship. We should also mobilize support for Obama’s stimulus package, for aid to the auto corporations -- albeit with strings -- and for immediate relief for homeowners...

In these and the other struggles, we have to become better at building the Party, press and YCL. I don’t want to say the opportunities to build the Party and press are limitless, but they have grown immensely.

Let me finish by saying that it sure feels good to be on the winning side. I’m sure everyone feels the same way. At the same time, because of this historic victory, we –and the broader movement that we are a part of – have our work cut out for us in the coming years. It’s a big challenge, but we have met other challenges. So let’s go out there and do it with a sense of confidence that the best days for our country lay ahead of us. Yes we can! Si Se Puede! Thank you.

New Zeal Thank you, Sam.

Obama File 55 here


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in 84 New Zealand elected a new government to replace the mini dictator Rob Muldoon.

It wasnt long before the country woke up and realised Attila the Hun had siezed the steering wheel of the economy and wasnt using the clutch as he changed gear.

Enter Obama.....


5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama's success came as a result of riding leftist and black racist power structures in union oriented Chicago. Had he been hired by a Michael Steele or a conservative that could have shown him an alternative pathway he would have taken it. Obama's education began when he started to campaign. It was then that he first saw America. A center-right, free market hope of the world. And he knows what the democrats did to destroy the economy. They tinkered with the market and derailed it. Dodd and Frank and Raines et al should be indicted. This would legitimize his centrist movement and his only hope for a success as president. If not the bacllash will be brutal and he will become an empty suit buffooon.

3:02 AM  

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